[Article]: How to choose the right bicycle for you
A road bike is designed for riding quickly on paved surfaces, and usually has drop handlebars, lightweight frames and narrow tyres. However, the speed focused position that the rider is put in is likely to be uncomfortable if you are only a casual rider, and they are not good for carrying any luggage.
Mountain bikes are made with cycling over rough terrain in mind, meaning that they are tough and have strong brakes. They also have a much more relaxed riding position, making them comfortable to use even if you are just using the bicycle for general leisure. The downside of mountain bikes is that they can be quite heavy due to their suspension, and may be slow on road surfaces.
Gravel bikes are popular as they are able to accommodate a range of riding styles and surfaces. They remain comfortable for the rider when cycling fast, and have wide tyres that will navigate various types of terrain. Some models will also have the capacity for you to install mudguards, and they can be used in winter if you equip them with puncture resistant tyres. Similarly to mountain bikes however, they can be on the heavier side and may be slower than more specialist bicycles as they are not designed with a specific riding surface in mind. They are also a lot more expensive than other kinds of bikes, due to the materials used in their construction.
Hybrid bikes have a combination of the features seen in mountain and road bicycles, as it has the comfortable riding position of a mountain bike and the lightweight frame of a road bike. This makes them ideal for riding on roads without sitting in an uncomfortable position, which can enable you to look further ahead when in traffic. The downside of this is that you will not be as aerodynamic as you would be on a different kind of bike, so you will not be able to ride as fast. Additionally, the heavier, more powerful brakes and luggage mounts that hybrid bikes can be fitted with makes them heavier than a standard road bike.
Electric bikes have a motor that can assist you when riding, which can be ideal for commuting if you don’t want to arrive at work sweaty, or if you are not confident in your fitness levels. They are designed to be comfortable and can easily carry luggage, but they can be quite heavy and need to be regularly recharged. Furthermore, most countries now have laws around the usage of electric bikes, with more powerful models sometimes requiring a licence to ride as well as insurance.
Touring bikes are suitable for both commuting and longer distance journeys. They have a large luggage capacity, and wide tyres so that it is comfortable to ride across a variety of terrains. Although you can still reach fairly decent speeds on a touring bicycle, they are not able to go as fast as other kinds of bike.
What accessories do you need when cycling?: Lock:
If you use your bicycle to commute to work or have to leave it out on the street, you’ll need a reliable lock to prevent it from being stolen by thieves. The best locks will not be cheap, but it can be hard to work out which type of lock is the best. Look out for locks that have been tested and rated by Sold Secure (a testing agency for security products), as they use a ranking system to indicate how much protection each item provides. Many bicycle insurance policies will also require you to own a Sold Secure lock. Even though a strong lock will not be cheap, it will certainly be cheaper than having to replace your bike.
There are various luggage options available if you need to carry things on your bicycle, from saddle bags to full luggage racks. The best choice for you will likely depend on the type of riding you are doing or what you are using your bike for. A saddle bag will attach underneath the bike’s saddle, and its compact size makes it ideal for carrying tools or spare parts for quick repairs at the roadside. Most cyclists opt to use backpacks, with cycling brands offering items with reflective detailing and places to attach lights.
These are essential and should be used whenever you are travelling when it is dark. Not only will they illuminate your path, they will also make you more visible to other drivers on the road. If you are cycling in a city, there is likely to be a large amount of ambient light from street lamps, so you will probably need some small, bright lights and reflectors to increase your visibility. For areas that are less lit, you should invest in more powerful lights such as LEDs or those with rechargeable batteries. You should also consider if the light has various options to change the brightness or other settings, so that it does not dazzle other drivers and can help to conserve battery life.
Spares & Tools:
If you ever need to inflate your tires, having a pump to hand will be useful. If you can carry a full size pump you can inflate tyres quickly. However, a mini-pump is much more compact and suited to carrying around in pockets or a bag. Additionally, you may find it helpful to travel with multi-tools that will allow you to quickly adjust your bike or make roadside repairs.
Mudguards & Fenders:
Mudguards are especially useful to have on a bicycle if you are often riding in wet weather, as they prevent road spray from reaching up higher, keeping you drier. They also protect the components of your bike from being damaged by water, extending its overall lifespan. Certain types of bikes will have mounts already on their frames where you can install mudguards, but there are also clip-on varieties that provide equal protection.
Bottle cage and bottle:
When riding long distances, you will need to remain hydrated. You could use a backpack or a pack with a hydration bladder, but it is often easier to use a water bottle and cage that can be attached to your bicycle.
Wearing a helmet is required under the law in some places, but even if it is not essential it can still be reassuring if you are worried about safety. In order for a helmet to be properly effective, it should be securely attached to your head, sit level, cover your forehead and the straps should be snug under your chin.
Although cycling clothing may feel uncomfortable and unflattering to people who are not professional athletes, it is designed to make riding your bike much more comfortable. Many items will have padding inside, be breathable and move with your body as you ride.
There are cycling specific shoes available, which have stiff soles that prevent your feet from becoming sore or stretching over the pedals of your bicycle. You can get flat-soled shoes, but most cycling shoes will have threads so that they can be bolted onto the cleats used by certain kinds of pedals.
This may be more of an essential if you are often riding in wet conditions or use your bike to commute to work. In order to effectively keep out rain, the jacket should fit in the riding position. It should also have a longer waist and arms so that neither of these ride up whilst you are cycling. It is best to opt for bright colours and reflective materials so that you are more visible to other road users in dreary weather conditions.
If you are wanting to track your fitness, a bicycle computer may be a worthy investment. It can measure your speed, distance, heart rate and can create a map of your route. There are basic models available, but more advanced options have features such as GPS.
You do not necessarily need cycling-specific glasses, but they will help to protect your eyes from the sun and prevent dirt from getting into them. Try to go for glasses that offer as much coverage as possible, with interchangeable lenses also a helpful feature so that they can be adapted according to the weather conditions.
Overall, if you are looking for a bicycle that is not geared towards any specific riding type, especially if you are only a casual rider, touring bikes and gravel bikes are your best option. If you have a budget in mind or are unsure about what type of bike is best for you, try visiting your local bicycle store’s showroom to test out how each bike feels.